Bridgeton MP slams Government’s handling of JobCentre closure

MP for Glasgow Central, Alison Thewliss, challenged the Prime Minister during question time on Wednesday to explain why the UK Government has neglected to properly inform residents that a local JobCentre would be closing its doors.

Bridgeton JobCentre, which is based in Ms Thewliss’ constituency, was shut down on Friday 2 February, and is one of six JobCentres in Glasgow to close as part of a wider government programme. The decision was met with widespread, cross-party condemnation, with many MPs commenting that closures would place an additional burden on those already struggling to make ends meet.

In a passionate plea during Prime Minister’s Questions, the SNP MP noted that a constituent of hers who is 58, has a variety of serious health concerns, and was only recently discharged from hospital, attended Bridgeton JobCentre on Tuesday, only to find it was closed. Ms Thewliss asked the Prime Minister to apologise to her constituent for not having made her aware of the JobCentre’s closure, and to refund her taxi fare.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“This situation really is absurd. Not only are my constituents who previously used Bridgeton JobCentre expected to travel to alternative locations to attend mandatory appointments, it appears that the government hasn’t even told them that their local JobCentre has closed.

“Unfortunately, whilst shocking, the case I raised during PMQs will not be unique. People will be turning up to JobCentres across Glasgow to find out for the first time that their local service no longer exists.

“The DWP holds extensive details of every claimant: they should take responsibility for their actions and write to everyone on their database to inform them about the closures.

“Surely the government must see what a shambles this whole process has been. My constituent, and scores of others like her, at the very least deserve an apology for the appalling way they have been treated. I will be writing to the Department for Work and Pensions to urge them to do so”.

Local MP slams callous decision to close Bridgeton JobCentre

Alison Thewliss MP sitting at her desk in Parliament

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, has condemned today’s (Thursday) decision by the UK Government’s to close Bridgeton JobCentre, leaving only one JobCentre office in the East End of Glasgow.

The UK Government published a statement confirming that Bridgeton JobCentre, along with 6 other JobCentres in Glasgow, will be closed from 31st March 2018. The statement was released shortly after the responses to the Government’s consultation on the closure of the JobCentre were published, which demonstrated significant opposition to the closure proposals. 64% of the responses expressed concerns that local services in Bridgeton would suffer as a result of closing Bridgeton JobCentre and that jobseekers would find it more difficult to make ends meet due to increased travel costs to other JobCentres.

Glasgow has been targeted disproportionate cuts to DWP offices, with over 50% of the DWP estate, including JobCentres and support offices, earmarked for closure by the UK Government. Local Jobseekers will now need to travel over three miles to attend appointments at Shettleston JobCentre – something that 79% of consultation responses highlighted as a concern in their submissions to the Government’s own consultation.

The decision will also put considerable pressure on JobCentre staff – the full extent of which is unclear as Ministers have previously admitted, in responses to written questions tabled by Ms Thewliss, that they do not know how many people currently use Bridgeton JobCentre.

Commenting on the decision, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The UK Government’s decision to close Bridgeton JobCentre is yet another slap in the face to the East End of Glasgow. For constituents who are already struggling, paying bus fares to get to mandatory JobCentre appointments will be an extra burden. Increased travel times will also put people at increased risk of falling foul of the Tories’ brutal sanctions regime.

“Ministers have admitted that they have no idea how many people rely on Bridgeton JobCentre, and not a single Minister visited Bridgeton JobCentre before the decision was taken to close it. Now they have decided to ignore the results of the consultation and sneak out a written statement on the closures, denying MPs an opportunity to hold Ministers to account in Parliament.

“Today’s callous decision shows that the Tories will continue to treat the people of Glasgow with contempt. I will be making every effort to bring Ministers to the despatch box to account for this poorly thought out and ill-informed decision and explain why they have not listened to the overwhelming evidence presented in their own consultation.”

Yet more DWP cuts for Glasgow

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has hit out at yet more plans by the DWP to shut down Government offices in her constituency. Her comments come in response to news today that Tory Ministers plan to shut fifteen more Jobcentres and back offices in Scotland, including Portcullis House and Corunna House in her Glasgow Central constituency.

Currently, the UK Government is already consulting on plans to close eight of Glasgow’s Jobcentres, including Bridgeton Jobcentre within Ms Thewliss’ constituency.

Alison Thewliss MP said:

“Last month this Tory Government delivered a body blow to communities all across our city by proposing to shut half of Glasgow’s Jobcentres. That consultation is still running and the fight to save those Jobcentres is still ongoing.

“Now we learn that UK Ministers are planning to scrap even more of the DWP estate in Glasgow by shutting down Government back offices. This comes on the back of recent HMRC cuts in Scotland, which we were told wouldn’t happen if Scotland rejected independence in 2014. That was obviously a blatant lie.

“These erratic Tory plans raise a number of very serious questions for Glasgow. Where are the jobs are being transferred to? What consultation has been carried out with staff? How does this fit into the current proposals to shut half of Glasgow’s Jobcentres? UK Government Ministers have been at great pains to stress the Jobcentre closures are only proposals, but how can Glaswegians trust them with these new cuts coming like a bolt from the blue?

“I am demanding an urgent meeting with DWP Ministers to get answers on these incredibly serious questions. This Tory Government’s slash and burn approach to civil service jobs and buildings needs to stop right now.”

JobCentres: Thewliss brands DWP plans clueless

Bridgeton MP, Alison Thewliss, has branded the Department of Work & Pensions as being utterly clueless about its own plans to butcher half of Glasgow’s job centres.

Her remarks follow the publication of a series of parliamentary questions in which the Government admits it can’t provide data on the number of people attending Bridgeton JobCentre Plus and which benefits they receive.

Furthermore, despite ‘arrogant plans’ to close swathes of the city’s job centre network, it transpires that no UK Government Minister has ever even bothered to visit Bridgeton, which is earmarked for closure.

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss said:

“Plans to shut Bridgeton Jobcentre along with the other job centres in Glasgow are totally ill thought out. This plan should be dropped immediately.

“What these parliamentary answers show is that Ministers are totally clueless on their own plans. They don’t appear to know how many claimants receive which benefit, therefore it begs the question – what rationale is there for removing this lifeline service?

“Even more insulting is that Ministers devised the plan from their ivory towers in Whitehall to axe our local job centres without even bothering to visit.

“Bridgeton and the wider area is not without its challenges. We already have a great network of local organisations and services to support people including Clyde Gateway, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Credit Union, Post Office, Olympia and Glasgow Women’s Library. Bridgeton job centre is a significant piece in this jigsaw.

“Axing Bridgeton Jobcentre would be a serious blow to local people who would be expected to take numerous buses or walk for almost an hour to their next available Jobcentre.

“Of course, had the UK Government Ministers bothered to do their homework, they’d have known this. Now they do – and now they should halt these plans without delay.”

SNP Councillor for Calton ward, Greg Hepburn, added:

“The closure of this Job Centre is a damaging decision that will have a huge impact on the lives of many people in the east end. Expecting local claimants to walk for up to an hour, take an expensive and unreliable bus or to own a car is at best careless and at worst negligent.”